Posts Tagged ‘Puritanism’

Old Princeton and the Puritans

Friday, May 28th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

I just recently started going through William B. Evans Imputation and Impartation: Union with Christ in American Reformed Theology. The book is a provocative exploration of the kind of Reformed theology called Federalism that was developed at Old Princeton, especially Charles Hodge. Federalism derives from the Latin term for covenant (foedus), and thus Evans traces the emergence of a particular stream of Reformed thought that used the idea of covenant to separate justification and sanctification and to overemphasize legal metaphors in salvation. Thus the kind of union that became important in this scheme was a legal union that existed completely outside of the believer and this union was completely separate from the spiritual union occurring in sanctification.

In his attack of both Puritan revivalism and the Mercersburg theology of John Nevin and the famous church historian, Philip Schaff, Charles Hodge was to push Federalism to the point that forensic justification and legal union became the dominant ways to describe the Reformed position. Evans thinks, and I agree, that this would have disastrous effects on Reformed theology in America. It is in contrast to the Puritan vision of an experimental piety grounded upon and flowing from a spiritual union with Christ. Once again, we see that Old Princeton, and its successor Westminster, through the continuing influence of their writings would redefine Reformed theology in such a way that it could not be compatible with the revivalist stream of evangelicalism. Read the rest of this entry »